I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner and Doctor Who last Friday. (We watched Castrovalva, as the end of our viewing of Season 18) I fancied something Middle Eastern and so I flicked through the wonderful Persiana cookbook by Sabrina Ghayour and found this lovely little recipe. Well, more accurately I remembered it – I’d seen it a while ago and bought the dried limes in preparation, but never actually got ’round to cooking it. Now was the time!
The recipe suggests serving this dish with fried slices of either potato or aubergine and so I opted for the latter and lightly fried some thick aubergine slices in olive oil until they were lightly browned on both sides. I accompanied the dish with lemon couscous and some garlic flatbread.
Rather than cooking it on the hob like the recipe suggested I started it all off in a large saucepan on the hob but then transferred it to a tagine, and into the oven, for the main cooking time. It all turned out nicely, although I think I may had added a little too much water near the end of the cooking time, as I was worried about it drying out, and thus thinned the sauce out a little too much. Still, I’ll know for next time.
Serves 4-6 (needless to say, I scaled it down for just the two of us. And still had plenty left over for the following day.)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and roughly diced
1kg of boneless lamb neck, diced into 1” pieces
2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 generous pinches of saffon
150g of tomato purée
8 Persian dried whole limes (these never soften into edibility, but impart a lovely tart, limey note to the finished dish. Hoof ’em out before serving though.)
200g of split yellow peas
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
(If you’re using a tagine, pre-heat the oven to 200)
Heat the olive oil in large saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onions until softened.
Increase the temperature and add the lamb pieces and fry for about five minutes, until the pieces are browned all over, stirring constantly to avoid the meat stewing.
Add the turmeric and stir well to ensure that the meat is completely coated. Do the same with the saffron and cinnamon. Then add the tomato purée and season well with salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Prick the limes with a fork. (This can be tricky – they’re tough buggers!)
Add them to the stew and then add enough water to just cover the meat and limes. Stir well, bring to a light boil and then turn the heat down low and cook for 1½ hours. (At this point I transferred the whole concoction to my tagine and slipped it into the oven for the requisite 1½ hours.)
After 1½ hours add the yellow split peas, stir in well, and cook for a further hour.